Best Vietnamese in ATL?
Does anyone have a strong recommendation for the best Vietnamese in Atlanta?
We ate at Co'm Dunwoody two nights ago and it was disappointing, especially considering the great service...I wanted it to be good.
My usual favorite is Pho Tan Tan on Buford Hwy. (where else?!) but the last time we ate there the owner and his family sat down next to us and they ALL proceeded to pass around the clippers and cut their toenails in the middle of the restaurant! This didn't bother my husband, but I was mortified and cannot bring myself to eat there again. Would this bother you?
Send me somewhere great -
On our first and only visit last year, we found the original Co'm on Buford Highway to be mediocre. Poor service, watered-down recipes, unfocused flavors. But the slightly gentrified ambience and dumbed-down menu draws in the caucasian hordes.
Pho Dai Loi (4186 Buford Highway) is our usual place for pho and bun. Many friends have reported similar cleanliness issues at Pho Tan Tan. That's the general consensus of this AC thread:
I haven't been in almost a year, but my only complaint w/ Com was the kitchen smoke haze in the dining room. But I am Caucasian, so maybe I don't know any better. I don't quite qualify as a "horde," fortunately.
The only similar Vietnamese restaurant I've been to in Atlanta was Vietnam House, which closed several years ago. When I say similar, I guess I mean a step above your average pho shop. I've been to Nam, also, but that's been a while and seemed too expensive for BuHi-esque fare at the time. At Vietnam House, we grilled meats at our table (in a lot of butter) and then had a platter of lettuce wrap ingredients and rice papers to go with. Personally, I think Com is better than my recollection of Vietnam House.
So, PK, I guess I'm curious what a non-dumbed-down Vietnamese menu looks like and where I should go to try it out.
Ted, I'm a white boy myself, but I've lived in Asia for several years, and lived in cities with better Vietnamese restaurants (like Philadelphia and San Francisco). And when I'm looking for Asian food in the ATL, I'm generally prepared to sacrifice ambience for authenticity.
That's where places like Nam, and to a lesser extent, Co'm, go wrong. Yes, they appeal to people who wouldn't usually explore dives on the Buford Highway. And maybe they'll function as "gateway drugs" to spur hounds-in-training to start exploring Chamblee and Doraville in a more adventurous fashion.
For an idea of what a more varied menu would look like, here's the menu for our favorite place in Philadelphia. Which, by the way, managed to serve authentic food in a more upscale ambience:
There was a huge smoke issue at Co'm when we visited (probably about the same time as you), but I've heard it's since been resolved.
But the problem I had with Co'm wasn't the menu per se-- which hey featured the usual mix of bun, rolls, and grilled meats over broken rice-- but the dullness and unfocusedness of the flavors in each dish. Vietnamese food is all about layering vibrant flavors, and juxtaposing varying textures, and I found that Co'm just didn't measure up. Their nuoc cham was seriously watered down, which is a basic indicator as far as these things go.
My opinion might be an outlier here. I know people who really like the food at the original Co'm, and others who just got frustrated with how the management kept pruning all the most interesting dishes from the menu. I really enjoy the BuHi branch of Dai Loi, and I'm itching to check out the original branch on Jonesboro Road.
The new Dai Loi- I only got as far as Fiesta Plaza yesterday (to hit the market)- is it in the Little Saigon strip just past that? I was thinking it was in the corner space where Vietnam House was.
I guess I was thinking that I give Com credit for at least being in the ballpark, which I don't think anyone else in town is really even trying. And compared to somewhere like Doc Chey's, it's positively stellar.
Dai Loi's in the Little Saigon strip, 4186 Buford Hwy NE, just past Plaza Fiesta.
I wouldn't put Co'm in the same ballpark as Doc Chey and P.F. Chang, either. And they're playing the same game. Just not at the same level, with a different fanbase. End of sports analogy.